Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why don't we have dashboards for public affairs?

Ultimately even the big political junkies like me would love to have a dashboard that allowed a quick review of all the things that government is supposed to do so we can pick out what is working well and what is working badly. It might be based on any number of graphic signals. Traffic lights, an analog dial meter, a color spectrum, thumbs up or down, a lot of different systems could be used to graphically measure what is going on. There would be a common ability to drill down to get details and take action buttons to get involved if things are not going well and you want to actually do something about it.

Business intelligence dashboards have been around for well over a decade and offer a functional model for this. You wouldn't need to do more than repurpose existing tools.

So why don't these things already exist? The work to create them might be tedious but it's mostly a one time effort to get public data made available publicly for free. Once that happens, maintaining access is very inexpensive as it is generally an automated process. Yet with a huge non-profit sector devoted to oversight of government, no general purpose dashboard system has emerged and become popular.